The importance of west verging structures at the western flank of the Andes, parallel to the subduction zone, appears currently minimized. This hampers our understanding of the Andes-Altiplano, one of the most significant mountain belts on Earth. We analyze a key tectonic section of the Andes at latitude 33.5 degrees S, where the belt is in an early stage of its evolution, with the aim of resolving the primary architecture of the orogen. We focus on the active fault propagation-fold system in the Andean cover behind the San Ramon Fault, which is critical for the seismic hazard in the city of Santiago and crucial to decipher the structure of the West Andean Thrust (WAT). The San Ramon Fault is a thrust ramp at the front of a basal detachment with average slip rate of similar to 0.4 mm/yr. Young scarps at various scales imply plausible seismic events up to M-w 7.4. The WAT steps down eastward from the San Ramon Fault, crossing 12 km of Andean cover to root beneath the Frontal Cordillera basement anticline, a range similar to 5 km high and >700 km long. We propose a first-order tectonic model of the Andes involving an embryonic intracontinental subduction consistent with geological and geophysical observations. The stage of primary westward vergence with dominance of the WAT at 33.5 degrees S is evolving into a doubly vergent configuration. A growth model for the WAT-Altiplano similar to the Himalaya-Tibet is deduced. We suggest that the intracontinental subduction at the WAT is a mechanical substitute of a collision zone, rendering the Andean orogeny paradigm obsolete. Citation: Armijo, R., R. Rauld, R. Thiele, G. Vargas, J. Campos, R. Lacassin, and E. Kausel (2010), The West Andean Thrust, the San Ramon Fault, and the seismic hazard for Santiago, Chile, Tectonics, 29, TC2007, doi: 10.1029/2008TC002427.
Armijo, Rolando Rauld, Rodrigo Thièle, Ricardo Vargas, Gabriel Campos, Jaime Lacassin, Robin Kausel, Edgar